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Thus far, it will be observed, no altar has been mentioned, nor is it said that Abel's firstlings were burnt. It is not until long afterwards that we find a' sacrificial distinction mentioned between clean beasts and unclean;1 and then it is we have on 1 Gen. vii. 2. record the building of an altar on which clean animals and clean birds were consumed by fire.
In the case of Noah's sacrifice, with which learn Jehovah was pleased, we
have another instance of the presentation of a material offering to God, with the added accompaniments mentioned of an altar, fire, and a distinction between clean and unclean animals.
About three hundred years later we read that Abram twice built an altar, and he called on the 2 Gen. xii. 7-8. name of Jehovah, who appeared to him. At Mamre Abram did the same, and later, when inquiring of s Gen. xiii. 18. Jehovah, he was expressly commanded to sacrifice a heifer, a she-goat, and a ram, each of them three years old, as well as a turtledove and a young pigeon. We have yet another instance of Abraham 4 Gen. xv. 9. building an altar when about to sacrifice his son, for whom, however, he ultimately substituted a
We read, likewise, of the patriarch Isaac, that he built an altar at Beersheba ;5 and the same may be 5 Gen. xxvi. 25.
specimen of which, with fresh blood thereon, I was able to secure.
1 Gen. xxxiii. 20. said of Jacob, at Shalem ;' whilst at Bethel we are
told that Jacob at first set up a pillar, and poured 2 Gen. xxxiii. 18. oil thereon, which act in after years he repeated, 8. Gen. xxxv. 1, adding to the oil a drink offerings
If now we review the data thus far selected, we see the first recorded act of the first two of Eve's sons manifesting a sense of dependence on, or obligation to, the deity, by presenting to Jehovah the firstfruits of their increase ; and we see men of succeeding generations offering to God of the choicest of clean beasts, of clean birds, and fruits of the ground, as well as a drink offering and oil ; thus fully establishing, in connection with abundant information from pagan literature, that in all ages in the ancient world, men have thought it their duty to offer a portion of their substance to the divine Being
ABRAM AND JACOB
Abram's tithe to Melchizedek, 13.— Tithing traced to Babylonia, 15.
Extent of Abram's tithes, 15.- Jacob's vow and its confirmation of tithe-paying, 17.-Scientific deduction from patriarchal tithing, 18.-Hypothesis for primeval origin of tithe-paying, 19.Adam's sons presumably the first tithe-payers, 19.-Absence of written law, and silence of Genesis, no objection thereto, 21.Pagan tithe-paying not learnt from Jewish Scriptures, 21.
E now pass to the example of Abram, of
whom we read that the proportion of his spoils that he devoted, was a tenth. Returning from the slaughter of the kings with spoils of war, he was met near Jerusalem by a kingly priest, Melchizedek, who brought to Abram bread and wine, who blessed Abram, who praised God for victory vouchsafed, and to whom Abram offered a tenth of all.
Here, then, we have an instance of tithe-paying which occurred (according to Ussher's chronology, which is here followed throughout) about 1900 B.C., and this has ordinarily been regarded as the earliest recorded instance of the payment of tithe. But recent discoveries, transmitted to
us by students of cuneiform literature, have thrown a flood of new light upon the land of Canaan before it was peopled by the Israelites. Professor Sayce,
1 p. 66.
tracing the migration of Abram from Ur of the Chaldees, says in his Patriarchal Palestine :
“Ur lay on the western side of the Euphrates in Southern Babylonia, where the mounds of Mugheir mark the site of the great temple that had been reared to the worship of the Moon-god long before the days of the Hebrew patriarch.
“Here Abram had married, and from hence he had gone forth with his father to seek a new home. Their first resting-place had been Harran in Mesopotamia. . . . Harran signified 'road' in the old language of Chaldæa, and for many ages the armies and merchants of Babylonia had halted there when making their way towards the Mediterranean. Like Ur, it was dedicated to the worship of Sin, the Moon-god ; and its temple rivalled in fame and antiquity that of the Babylonian city, and had probably been founded by a Babylonian king.
“At Harran, therefore, Abram would still have been within the limits of Babylonian influence and culture, if not of Babylonian government as well. He would have found there the same religion as that which he had left behind him in his native city. ...
“Even in Canaan Abram was not beyond the reach of Babylonian influence. . . . Babylonian armies had already penetrated to the shores of the Mediterranean, Palestine had been included within the bounds of a Babylonian empire, and Babylonian culture and religion had spread widely among the Canaanitish tribes. The cuneiform system of writing had made its way to Syria, and Babylonian literature had followed in its wake. Centuries had already passed since Sargon of Akkad had made himself master of the Mediterranean coast, and his son Naram-Sin had led his forces to the peninsula of Sinai.”
Now if Babylonian culture and religion had thus spread to the Canaanites, it suggests a reason why the colony of Phænicians from Tyre, who founded Carthage (say about 900 B.C.) were tithe-payers ; *
2 See Sacred Tenth, p. 15.
1 Patriarchal Religion, p. 175
and if Melchizedek may be regarded as a Canaanitish priest, then it would be as natural for him in his royal and priestly character to expect tithes from Abram as it was for Abram to pay them. Hence the professor, alluding to this incident, says : 1
“ This offering of tithes was no new thing. In his Babylonian home Abram must have been familiar with the practice. The cuneiform inscriptions of Babylonia contain frequent references to it. It went back to the pre-Semitic age of Chaldæa, and the great temples of Babylonia were largely supported by the esrâ or tithe which was levied upon prince and peasant alike. That the god should receive a tenth of the good things which, it was believed, he had bestowed upon mankind was not considered to be asking too much. There are many tablets in the British Museum which are receipts for the payment of the tithe to the great temple of the sun-god at Sippara, in the time of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors. From one of them we learn that Belshazzar, even at the very moment when the Babylonian empire was falling from his father's hands, nevertheless found an opportunity for paying the tithe due from his sister."
A question may here be asked as to the extent of Abram's tithes : were they a tenth of all his spoils only, and so given voluntarily and specially on this particular occasion, or were they a tenth of all his income and something paid as a due?
Neither the Hebrew of Genesis nor the Greek of the Epistle to the Hebrews limits the word “ all ” to the spoils. In Hebrews vii. 4 the writer argues that Melchizedek was greater than Abram because Abram paid tithes to him. Now, when a man pays a tribute or due, we look upon the receiver as being, for the moment, superior to the giver; and the